Philadelphia sketch club

DEFINITION

Founded in 1860 in Philadelphia, the organization was a rebellion against the Pennsylvania Academy by artists who wanted more freedom of expression. They wanted to do sketching, which later came to mean illustration, and also to have a place to socialize and exchange ideas freely. Founders were George and Edmund Bensell, Edward McIlhenny, Henry Bispham, John Gihon and Robert Wylie. They were quickly joined by other artists, and key personalities were Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz. During the 1870s, when the Pennsylvania Academy's new building was incomplete, classes were held at the Sketch Club including life classes by Eakins. Over the years, members have shared studio space and learned from each other, and they have initiated programs including regular workshops and exhibitions to promote the appreciation of art. Many older members have reached out to emerging artists. The organization was incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1889, and in 1991, it received legal status to solicit outside funding, having survived on donations from members. In 1903, the Philadelphia Sketch Club began its long-time occupancy of its buildings at 235 South Camac Street. This site has three federal period row houses, built in 1822, and joined together to form one building. Source: David Sellin and Mark Sullivan, "Thomas Eakins and His Fellow Artists at the Philadelphia Sketch Club" (LPD)

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